Summertime, and the living is not easy. I am tearing my hair out, and the kids have only been out of school for three days. However, in all fairness, I have kind of brought it on myself.
Let me explain.
Every summer I do a sort of home school for the kids. It is a time-honored tradition in my husband's family, and I think it is a good idea to keep boredom at bay and to make sure summer is fun and productive. It consists of structured leaning activities (both academic and non-academic) and work around the house all morning, and then free time from the early afternoon until dinner. Every summer, I start out with high hopes and well-organized schedules, only to slowly disintegrate into laziness and chaos by the end of the summer. You could say the gradual destruction of our summer school is a time-honored tradition in our family, as much as it pains me to admit it.
The thing is, there are things I need my kids to learn that they aren't necessarily learning in school. Things like working hard, taking responsibility and contributing towards an important group goal. Things like kindness and respect for others, and service, especially to those who are weaker and smaller than you. Things like pursuing your passions and enjoying learning. These are things better learned at home, and these are things that are more easily taught at home in the summer when I have more time with my kids than during the school year when we are busy going every which-way. Knowing that Brendan is only going to be in our home full-time for a few more years puts an additional flame under me to make sure I am doing everything I can to teach him (and the rest of the kiddos) everything I want them to know.
The tear-my-hair part comes in because I am not a good delegater by nature. Without delegating to my older kids, summer school is six hours of me running around from kid to kid, checking on them, answering questions, talking them down from the whining wall and trying to keep them all on track. That means that when the kids are ready for their free time, I have a lot to try to squeeze into my "free" time, like: chores, errands, projects, blogging, bill paying, taking kids to friends' houses or the park, making dinner, laundry, etc. I have even less time for myself during summer than I do during the school year. And it is no great shakes during the school year, by the way. Thus the hair tearing...
So far, school has been going pretty well, but I don't know if I can keep it up all summer because of the aforementioned lack of time for me to get things done. Buuut, I really think it is an important thing for our family to do. I've been mulling it over. Here are some tweaks I need to implement--maybe these will be helpful to others who are struggling with how to make sure summer with your kids doesn't make you crazy:
I am trying to get my older kids to help out with mentoring the younger ones more, so I can relinquish some of my evil overseer role and be able to get some of my chores done in the morning. I have only recently realized (dense as I seem doomed to be in some areas) that supervising my kids is a full-time job. I can either do work myself, or supervise/help my kids, but not both at the same time. I soothe myself with the thought that it is good for the older ones to learn to patiently help and train the younger kids, right? Also, the younger kids like to model their older siblings. And bottom line, it keeps mom from going crazy--a crazy mom is not any body's idea of fun.
I am also making my kids do more of the cleanup, rather than trying to do my normal chores (like daytime dishes and laundry) all myself. The workload at least doubles in the Summer with all the kids home all day, constantly grazing through the kitchen and changing their outfits 50 times a day (only slightly hyperbolic, by the way :) ). My normal modus operandi is to try to keep it all going while they meanwhile sit like lazy lumps on the couch or follow me around whining about boredom. However, here is a startling realization: The kids can take responsibility for their own messes. Strange that this feels so revolutionary for me. I think I've felt for many years that if there is any way I can possibly do it myself, I shouldn't ask other people (especially my children) for help with my household chores. I've had a few light bulb moments lately where I've realized that my kids can and should do more in terms of the clean-up and maintenance of our home. My husband is probably wondering (as the oldest of six kids himself) why it has taken me so long to figure that out, but better late than never, right?
Anyway, that's why nothing else on my looong to-do list seems to be getting done, or at least not with any kind of speed. I'm trying to remind myself that although developing people and keeping up with essential household tasks may not be the kind of thing I can post on my blog (although ironically--isn't that what I'm doing right now??), in the long run, it's what will matter-- far more, in fact, than all the seemingly critical things on my to-do list.
Sooooo-- how is your summer going? Both smug reports of how well you are doing and shameless venting are welcome, by the way!